This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding winner’s choice of two ebooks from Lachesis Publishing to a randomly drawn winner via the form at the end of this post.
Daphne Wentworth is almost seventeen, definitely a red head, and most likely the tallest girl in her class, which is awkward to say the least when it comes to dating boys in her school. But she doesn’t have to worry about school for the next two months since she’s spending the summer at her aunt Dwill’s lighthouse in Maine.
What she does have to worry about is seeing ghosts in the lighthouse cemetery, having strange dreams, and hearing the voices of star-crossed lovers who lived two-hundred years ago. And then there’s a local boy named Zach Philbrook who works for her aunt. He’s too gorgeous for his own good. He’s also very tall, with midnight black hair, and the most beautiful indigo blue eyes Daphne has ever seen.
Zach is treated like an outcast by the local teens in town. He’s Micmac and therefore not “one of the gang”. Daphne can’t help being drawn to his strength, especially considering that he’s had to live his entire life dealing with ignorance. But the local teens aren’t the only trouble-makers in town. As Zach and Daphne get closer, the lighthouse ghost lovers begin haunting them. When Daphne and Zach try to figure out how to fight them, the spirits get bolder and more dangerous.
So how do you protect yourself from something that isn’t really there?
Enjoy a long excerpt from the book!
His eyes were indigo, the deep blue-black of the open ocean shot through with the heavy gray of a storm. Their color caught me when he turned and tried to walk away from the group of kids gathered to torment him.
The town kids are mean. They stopped him in front of the hardware store, a bag of grass seed slouched heavily over his shoulder. The girls crossed in front of him so that he had to stop. They batted their eyelashes and taunted him while the guys poked at the bag and tried to make him drop it.
They ran off when that big dope Gary O’Malley stuck his finger through the plastic. Only it wasn’t his finger, but a pocketknife pressed against his palm.
“Zach Attack!” Gary crowed as he backed away from the spilling seed, flashing the knife. The group of six then dashed in my direction.
Zach, if that was his name, clamped the hole closed as best he could, stemming the flow enough to carry the bag back into the hardware store.
I stood my ground, making the six slow at the thin alley opening. Chantal Barrett tried to shove past me and glowered, “What’s your problem? Move.”
My eyes narrowed. Blood pumped faster into my veins and my legs weakened, but I held firm.
“Learn some manners,” I snapped, “and grow up!” What they’d done wasn’t right. I could see Chantal got my message.
“Boo-hoo! Why don’t you run on over and help Zach clean up, if you’re so concerned.”
Gary’s jaw dropped. “She’s sticking up for that—”
“Daphne doesn’t know any better, Gary,” Chantal interrupted, covering his words—she thought. She turned a sweetened smile on me. “She doesn’t live here. She’s not one of us.”
Her words had their desired effect. Each of the six snickered in their own way and one-by-one shouldered past me to disappear down the alley.
Chantal the last, she paused and stuck her face into mine. “Mind your business. Or be sorry.”
She hurried down the alley after the others. I glanced at the hardware store, but Zach was long gone.
I made my way to the grocer.
When I got back to the lighthouse, I told Aunt Dwill what had happened, skipping Chantal’s threat. She was pleased, I could tell, though her words were cautious.
“You’re nothing, Daphne, if you can’t stand up for your principles. Just be mindful that every gain has a loss and every victory a cost. Pick your battles, and be sure you’re willing to pay.”
I frowned. She kissed my forehead. “I’ll put this stuff away. Go on out to the cemetery and start clearing. The fresh air will do you good.”
I guess I should explain about my aunt and the lighthouse.
This year is the lighthouse’s two-hundredth birthday. From the moment they struck the first wick, there has always been a Wentworth in charge. By the end of the first year, a Wentworth woman.
The present Wentworth is my aunt Dwill, Official Lighthouse Keeper of the Bay Head Light in Bay Bluffs, Maine. It’s a small town with a big responsibility. You see, the ledges off Bay Head are some of the worst along the northeastern seaboard. And they’re smack in the middle of two of the busiest seaports this side of the Canadian border.
Aunt’s real name is Edwilda, which explained her willingness to let her siblings foist the nickname ‘Dwill’ on her. It’s an old family name, my mom explained to me one day.
Yeah, well it should have stayed that way, in my opinion. Everyone thinks Aunt must be old until they meet her. She’s my mom’s middle sister, in her mid-forties but already a widow. It happened when I was little, and no one really talks about it much.
Anyway, it’s a big place for one person. She sent us pictures after she moved in. Someone took a picture of her on her front porch. Though almost as tall as me, she looked so small in the middle of the three archways, the light tower rising behind her house, the sea swelling in the background to both sides of the picture.
The lighthouse property sat on a promontory, beautiful but isolated. I remember the first time we came up to visit. Only two of my sisters had come. We arrived at dusk. Neither wanted to get out of the car.
“It’s creepy out here,” they whined. “What’s that noise? Why is it so dark? Is that light going to flash all night?”
All that before they even discovered the lighthouse came with the old historic cemetery in the woods. When we left on Sunday, they were happy to go. I stood by the lighthouse in the backyard, leaning on the fence in the growing mist as the fog horn sounded, a deep boom through my chest.
“Will you send me more pictures, Aunt?” I asked when she came out to get me.
What she sent was a picture of me, smiling broadly on the lighthouse’s hurricane deck, a glimpse of the Fresnel lens visible on my right, the sea on my left. We became pen pals of a sort, and in the summer of my thirteenth year, she invited me up for a week.
One week turned into two and that’s how it’s remained ever since.
This year, however, was special and Aunt decided to throw a celebration for the light, complete with a tour and period costumes. She asked if I could come for a couple of months, to help her ready the property. My parents agreed when they learned I’d be working for her and not just ‘wasting my summer’.
So as you can see, I was well-acquainted with Bay Head Light and already more connected to it than I realized.
I stopped by the shed to get some tools. Gloves, definitely. Don’t want my hands in something I can’t identify. A trowel, small hand claw, paper yard waste bag, pruning shears. Equipment gathered, I quickly twisted my hair up, slipped a scrunchie over it, and headed into the woods.
The cemetery wasn’t far and wasn’t scary. Not to me. Just a scattering of old stones with ancient memories written on them. People long gone to another life and no one here who remembers them.
I dropped my canvas shoulder bag of goods on the ground near the gate. Wrought iron and rusted, it leaned into the cemetery boundaries at a precarious angle. Thank God I didn’t have to push it open . . . I’d have probably landed on the ground with a rusted spiral in my gut.
This place was unfamiliar to me, except in passing. Though I’d known of the cemetery’s existence, I’d never gone in. I had too much to do in the land of the living for my short time here. No one ever came out here, so what difference did the overgrowth make?
Aunt begged to differ and insisted I clean the place up. The lighthouse was two hundred years old this summer, she reminded me, and the cemetery belonged to the lighthouse.
So, on a bright June day, I found myself alone in a somewhat decrepit cemetery in a clearing in the woods. I made my way around the ancient stones in an attempt to put off the start of my project. Most were upright and clear enough of the tangle of brush that a portion of the inscription could be read.
One small stone, nearly buried in the overgrown grass at the north corner, caught my eye. I flattened enough of the green to reveal the single word Sarah, and beneath it Age 3 Months.
Sadness flashed through me, unexpectedly. There were babies buried here?
I slipped the hand pruners from my back pocket where I’d stuck them and carefully snipped the grass down in front of the headstone. I pulled viney growth from the top corner of the stone, revealing a W. and a P.
My hand cramped as I diligently snipped away at the grass, clearing the plot.
The screech of the gate would have warned me . . . had the gate been in better repair. With its useless tilt, however, I never heard him coming. The bag dropping next to me on the mixed pile of living and dead debris announced his presence.
I flipped to the side, tripping myself with my legs, but managed to keep the pruners in front of me. I pointed them into the air in front of my face.
Blue-black eyes studied me, one hand hooked into his pants pocket by the thumb, the other paused in front of him, fingers splayed where it had dropped the bag.
In books you always read about these moments. Crickets clicked, or birds called, or someone’s watch ticked, marking time. Maybe all three.
In real life, the only thing you really hear until you recognize that person is your own heavy breathing, that being indicative of the fact that you are in the middle of nowhere with no possible help nearby.
“Your aunt sent me.”
The pruners remained hoisted. My legs folded gratefully. My butt hit the ground, relieving the pressure on my arm from holding my whole body in the air, as his outstretched arm dropped to his side.
“I’m Zach. You’re starting at Sarah?”
My eyes flashed around the graveyard then to the small stone. I pulled my knees up and rested my arms on them. “She’s just a baby.”
When I turned my gaze back to Zach, his eyes were on me. “It happened. Times were tough.”
As though he’d been there from the start, he retrieved the bag and began to stuff my cuttings into it.
His eyes flicked over to me. The flash of a grin revealed he knew he was being a pain, and I could barely keep my own lips from giving me away with a smile. I hurriedly snipped some more overgrowth and tossed it toward him. It disappeared into his bag.
We worked side-by-side in silence, clearing Sarah’s resting place and spreading outward from there. Her mother’s stone sat beside hers and we tidied that. Her dad’s seemed to be missing.
“What do you suppose happened to Mr. P.?” I asked, needing to hear Zach’s voice again, wanting more conversation.
“He wasn’t allowed here. Christians only in church-blessed ground, you know.”
I stared at the mother’s stone. Dorothea. Devoted mother.
“Who says he wasn’t a Christian?” For some reason I felt defensive.
I stared at him, considering his words. Mostly, though, I just wanted to make him think I was thinking about them, to give me more time to check him out. His hair, straight, near-black and shiny, was pulled back from his face into a ponytail that brushed the base of his neck. His skin was brownish, like a tan but not really. Besides, it was too early for that. His eyes were almost almond-shaped, but not quite, in a not-quite round face. He was tall and thin but not gawky like a lot of the boys I knew.
I think he was older than most of the boys I knew.
He had very nice lips. They were starting to smile.
My face went beet red, I could feel it. Busted! Damn.
“Where do we go from here?”
My heart started hammering, but he pointed up toward the gate, then down along the back fence.
“Th-the back,” I managed to stammer—so smooth. What an idiot.
He walked away. He must think me such a baby, such a fool.
Zach retrieved my canvas bag from near the gate and brought it to the back of the cemetery, gathering his yard sack along the way. As he passed me, he cocked his head toward the back row. “What, you need an invitation? It was your call!” and tossed my canvas bag to me.
Two hours later we packed it in. The sun sat low enough to indicate the time and our watches confirmed it. Zach walked me back to the lighthouse but mostly because he had to. Once he got me to admit I couldn’t do it on my own, it took both of us to lug the filled waste bag over our shoulders.
“I’m sorry if I scared you.” He huffed as we neared the tree line, the lighthouse lawn stretching just beyond the border of trees.
“I don’t scare easy,” I exclaimed. “If the gate was proper, I’d’ve known you were there.”
“It used to have a brass bell on it. A ‘blessing called to sea’ every time a loved one went to pay respects. Everyone in the cemetery is tied to the sea, you know.”
His dark eyes studied me, taking in the lesson.
Zach said goodbye and left after we dumped the bag at my aunt’s trash corral. I caught sight of him, though, just inside the tree line, hovering until I closed the door.
What my mom and aunt would call a gentleman.
Me? I wasn’t so sure.
Jeanine Duval Spikes is a spinner of romantic tales with a touch of the supernatural. Lifelong research and experience with the paranormal infuse her stories with ethereal spirit, while her belief that love conquers all suffuses them with heart.
She is a paranormal investigator with a small local group, aspiring to help those in need by advancing this exploratory field both spiritually and scientifically. When not writing, you can find her cooking, gardening, horseback riding, or forever getting lost in secondhand shops. The mother of two grown sons, she lives in Rhode Island, the Ocean State, with her very own hero-husband Tim, and two crazy cats. She is the proud recipient of the Jo Ann Ferguson Service Award for selfless assistance and dedication to fellow writers and the craft.